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Becoming a Happiness Walker, and Loving It!

Suzanne conducting a "what matters most" interview on the road in New Mexico.
Suzanne conducting a “what matters most” interview on the road in New Mexico.
By Suzanne Ganzak Carnill

After meeting Happiness Walker Paula Francis on my home turf in Florida in 2015, I was determined to join her on the Walk.  My goal was September 2016 in New Mexico.


But how to prepare? I have always been a walker.  I have walked several 1/2 marathons, most under three hours.  But, this was different.  Day after day walking 17, 19 or even 23 miles.  That thought added to my anxiousness about training.  I knew I could do three continuous days.  It was that fourth, fifth and sixth day I had questions about.  Therefore, building my stamina was my biggest goal.


I joined a gym in February.  On the treadmill I started with four miles on the rolling hills setting at 3.5 miles per hour.  It was nice and easy.  I had  my new Ipod (over 4,000 songs).  I would plug in and let the music take me over.  Upon completion of my walking, I did about a half hour of various core strengthening exercises.  I also added the leg machines.  For about two months, I spent an hour and a half at the gym four or five times a week.


By May, I upped my miles per hour to 4.5, always remaining walking.  I felt that was very important.  To walk.  I still added a half hour of core and leg exercising.  Now, though, I added more: golfing.  I went to the range three times a week in the evening shooting a bucket of 180 balls.  I was then playing 18 holes on Sundays without the cart, walking.  I would go to the gym later in the afternoon on Sunday and do only 2 miles on the treadmill plus 15 minutes of core exercises.  Remember — I was trying to build endurance.  On Saturdays I went to the gym for approximately 2 hours, then back home where I mowed the front and back lawn.  My weekends were full.  It got to be a personal challenge to see how much I could do in a single day.

In June I began using the incline setting on the treadmill.  I started at 10% incline doing four miles at 3.8 miles per hour.  Within the month I was doing at least the first two miles at 15% incline but I was slowly upping the miles per hour.  Now sometimes I would run 15% incline at 5.4 miles per hour.  I had to hold on but I did it.  I was still doing the half hour of core strengthening – plus! 15 minutes on the bike.

I continued like this for a month or two.  I was still going home on Saturday and cutting my front grass and back grass.  But, now added doing my neighbors lawn to my routine.  I would also do regular errands like grocery shopping and the like.  Then I would take a shower and go to Church in the evening.  I wanted to see how long I could last.  I kept this routine up as regular weekend actions for the next three months until I left for New Mexico.  I would sometimes do 6 miles at 15% incline at 4.5 miles per hour.  I was trying to keep in mind that Paula was walking regularly everyday sometimes doing 29 miles in a day.  I did not want to bog her down or embarrass myself.

I am also a licensed massage therapist, so on top of all of this, I was doing between 5 and 8 massages five days a week.  I would go to the gym Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  I made Saturday, Sunday and Monday, my heaviest days.  Wednesday and Friday I usually spent an hour and half at the gym.

I know it sounds like a lot but it got to be a fun routine.  I started making a game out of it to see how much I could accomplish in a day.  I was challenging myself to keep pace with a woman who walks seven days a week, five to seven hours every day.  I really looked forward to my workouts and still do.  My weekend is planned around my trips to the gym.  I feel great and look healthy.  I eat good food and have a fun active life.   And now I am a HAPPINESS WALKER and could not be more impressed with my recent accomplishment of 167 miles in 10 days. 

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